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Lake Titicaca Bolivia Artefacts

Archaeologists in Bolivia find 1,500-year-old treasures


Archaeologists have discovered around 2,000 gold and silver pieces as well as bones and pottery at the bottom of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.  The objects come from different eras, both Inca and pre-Inca, with some dating back 1,500 years.

"There are ceramics and urns from more than 500 to 800 years ago," said Christophe Delaere, the Belgian co-director of the Huinaimarca Project.  Elsewhere, 1,500-year-old objects such as stone vessels, incense containers and figures of animals like pumas were found.

With a surface area of over 3,200 square miles, this Andean snow-fed lake is a remnant of an ancient inland sea that covered much of what is now the Bolivian Altiplano.  It is South America's second-largest freshwater lake (after Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela) and at more than 12,500 feet, is one of the world's highest navigable bodies of water.

The archaeological project began two months ago on the Bolivian side of the lake, which is shared with Peru, and so far most of the gold fragments were found around Isla del Sol, where legend holds that mythical founders of the Incan empire emerged from the lake's waters.

According to Incan mythology, Isla del Sol is the birthplace of creation. After the great flood, the god Viracocha emerged from the waters and made the sun, the moon and the stars, and ordered the sun to follow a course from east to west. He then went to Tiahuanaco to create the first human beings, Mallku Kapac and Mama Ocllo. These first humans, the "Inca Adam and Eve," were formed from stone and brought to life by Viracocha, who commanded them to go out and populate the world. Thus Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the Incas, whose spirits return to their origin in the lake upon death.

In 2000, the ruins of an ancient temple were discovered by international archaeologists under Lake Titicaca. A terrace for crops, a long road and an 800-metre long wall was also found under the waters of the lake.  The holy temple measures 200m by 50m almost twice the size of an average football pitch.

It is not only the Lake that holds many mysteries.  The ancient city of Tiwanaku, which sits 800 metres above the level of Lake Titicaca, and the nearby ‘Gate of the Gods’, have been fascinating archaeologists for decades. Perhaps one day this region, which is steeped in history, will give up some of its secrets.

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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